Mendelssohn and His World

Princeton University Press
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During the 1830s and 1840s the remarkably versatile composer-pianist-organist-conductor Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy stood at the forefront of German and English musical life. Bringing together previously unpublished essays by historians and musicologists, reflections on Mendelssohn written by his contemporaries, the composer's own letters, and early critical reviews of his music, this volume explores various facets of Mendelssohn's music, his social and intellectual circles, and his career. The essays in Part I cover the nature of a Jewish identity in Mendelssohn's music (Leon Botstein); his relationship to the Berlin Singakademie (William A. Little); the role of his sister Fanny Hensel, herself a child prodigy and accomplished composer (Nancy Reich); Mendelssohn's compositional craft in the Italian Symphony and selected concert overtures (Claudio Spies); his oratorio Elijah (Martin Staehelin); his incidental music to Sophocles' Antigone (Michael P. Steinberg); his anthem "Why, O Lord, delay forever?" (David Brodbeck); and an unfinished piano sonata (R. Larry Todd). Part II presents little-known memoirs by such contemporaries as J. C. Lobe, A. B. Marx, Julius Schubring, C. E. Horsley, Max Mller, and Betty Pistor. Mendelssohn's letters are represented in Part III by his correspondence with Wilhelm von Boguslawski and Aloys Fuchs, here translated for the first time. Part IV contains late nineteenth-century critical reviews by Heinrich Heine, Franz Brendel, Friedrich Niecks, Otto Jahn, and Hans von Blow.
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Princeton University Press
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Jan 16, 2012
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Music / History & Criticism
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The scandal over modern music has not died down. While paintings by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock sell for a hundred million dollars or more, shocking musical works from Stravinsky's Rite of Spring onward still send ripples of unease through audiences. At the same time, the influence of modern music can be felt everywhere. Avant-garde sounds populate the soundtracks of Hollywood thrillers. Minimalist music has had a huge effect on rock, pop, and dance music from the Velvet Underground onward. Alex Ross, the brilliant music critic for The New Yorker, shines a bright light on this secret world, and shows how it has pervaded every corner of twentieth century life.

The Rest Is Noise takes the reader inside the labyrinth of modern sound. It tells of maverick personalities who have resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art.

Ross, in this sweeping and dramatic narrative, takes us from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.

We know Robert Schumann in many ways: as a visionary composer, a seasoned journalist, a cultured man of letters, and a genius who, having passed his mantle on to the young Brahms, succumbed to mental illness in 1856. Drawing on recent pathbreaking research, this collection offers new perspectives on this seminal nineteenth-century figure.

In Part I, Leon Botstein and Michael P. Steinberg assess Schumann's efforts to place music at the center of German culture, in public and private sectors. Bernhard R. Appel offers a probing source study of one of Schumann's most personal works, the Album für die Jugend, Op. 68, while John Daverio considers the generic identity of Das Paradies und die Peri, and Jon W. Finson reexamines the first version of the Eichendorff Liederkreis. Gerd Nauhaus investigates Schumann's approach to the symphonic finale, and R. Larry Todd considers the intractable issue of quotations and allusions in Schumann's music. Part II presents letters and memoirs, including unpublished correspondence between Clara Schumann and Felix and Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. In Part III, conflicting critical views of Schumann are juxtaposed. Some of these sources are translated into English for the first time.

Originally published in 1994.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

An extraordinary prodigy of Mozartean abilities, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy was a distinguished composer and conductor, a legendary pianist and organist, and an accomplished painter and classicist. Lionized in his lifetime, he is best remembered today for several staples of the concert hall and for such popular music as "The Wedding March" and "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing." Now, in the first major Mendelssohn biography to appear in decades, R. Larry Todd offers a remarkably fresh account of this musical giant, based upon painstaking research in autograph manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, and paintings. Rejecting the view of the composer as a craftsman of felicitous but sentimental, saccharine works (termed by one critic "moonlight with sugar water"), Todd reexamines the composer's entire oeuvre, including many unpublished and little known works. Here are engaging analyses of Mendelssohn's distinctive masterpieces--the zestful Octet, puckish Midsummer Night's Dream, haunting Hebrides Overtures, and elegiac Violin Concerto in E minor. Todd describes how the composer excelled in understatement and nuance, in subtle, coloristic orchestrations that lent his scores an undeniable freshness and vividness. He also explores Mendelssohn's changing awareness of his religious heritage, Wagner's virulent anti-Semitic attack on Mendelssohn's music, the composer's complex relationship with his sister Fanny Hensel, herself a child prodigy and prolific composer, his avocation as a painter and draughtsman, and his remarkable, polylingual correspondence with the cultural elite of his time. Mendelssohn: A Life offers a masterful blend of biography and musical analysis. Readers will discover many new facets of the familiar but misunderstood composer and gain new perspectives on one of the most formidable musical geniuses of all time.
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